LouFest: Where Frolicking Children Meet Dancing Twentysomethings

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A day at the park, with live music as the backdrop. - ALBERT SAMAHA
  • Albert Samaha
  • A day at the park, with live music as the backdrop.

Plaid button-downs and Tom's canvas shoes and argyle socks and neon green wayfarers and over-the-shoulder purse straps and jeans shorts with tattered bottoms and soccer jerseys and mountain man beards. The usual music festival crowd paraded around LouFest.

But there, at the picnic tables below the big white tent and in the grassy space by the main entrance and under the Bud Light umbrellas by the Nosh Pit eating area were empty strollers and little children running around throwing frisbees at each other.

And there, in the sprawling grounds between the two stages, were middle-age men in nylon polos and middle-age women in sandals, sitting in fold-up chairs, their backpacks and handbags lying on cushy picnic blankets at their feet.

LouFest, it turned out, was as family-friendly as advertised.

The traditional concert crowd packed the stage areas, dancing and shouting lyrics and slapping beach balls, with a spatter of folks occasionally crouching down to avoid getting caught while lighting joints.

Throughout the rest of the venue, though, families kicked back -- a day at the park with loud live music as the backdrop. They climbed a rock wall and ate ice cream at Area K, the children's corner at the far side of the festival. Fathers and daughters kicked around beach balls that spilled from the stage area. Mothers and sons hit the sticks at the Sony PlayStation trailer.

The atmosphere was a testament to the festival's set up. The venue was wide open, yet small enough that people could set up chairs and blankets for the day and watch performances on either stage, comfortably behind the energetic crowds in the front rows.

Next to the retail tent, as the sun was setting on the second day, a young girl -- no older than four or five -- in a pink tank-top and beige bucket hat stood ready to kick the green and white beach ball to her father ten yards away. She waved for him to scoot back. He took a step back. She kept waving. He took three more steps back. The girl shuffled up, swung back her right foot, and kicked the ball with all her might. It bounced two or three yards before dying in the grass. The father laughed. The girl ran up behind the ball and kicked it again and again, until it finally reached her father. When it did, he gave her a high-five, then picked her up and spun her around in his arms while she giggled.

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